River hike: Bogachiel River
Where: Find the Bogachiel River on the Olympic Peninsula about four hours' drive from the Seattle area.
Stats: 8–12 miles round-trip; 400-foot elevation gain; Northwest Forest Pass required to park
Contact: Olympic National Forest Pacific Ranger District, 360-374-6522
Kids will love ... using a magnifying glass to examine the amazing epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants) that festoon nearly every branch and tree trunk. A native plant guidebook will come in handy.
Many would say the most spectacular Pacific Northwest winter hiking experience is the Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park. We’d agree — with an asterisk. If you want the beauty of the Hoh Rain Forest without the crowds, try the Bogachiel, a rain forest valley just to the north.
The hiking is flat and easy as it meanders through this mist-shrouded forest. You’ll start amid second-growth trees and then, when you cross into Olympic National Park after 1.5 miles, old-growth trees. Two stream crossings will get your feet wet (if you’re not wearing waterproof boots). Once you’ve had your fill of lichens and fungi, just turn around and return the way you came.
Getting there: Of the four rain forest valleys, the Bogachiel River Valley is the closest to the town of Forks. From town, head south on U.S. Highway 101 for 5 miles, then turn left (east) on Undi Road directly across from Bogachiel State Park. After 2 miles, turn left onto the Undi Road bypass, a primitive gravel road, and proceed 2 miles farther. Turn left at the stop sign onto Forest Service Road 2932 and continue to the trailhead for Bogachiel Rain Forest River Trail No. 825.
More hikes like this: The Old Sauk River Trail, just south of Darrington, is a flat, easy trail that meanders alongside the beautiful Sauk River. The first portion of the trail is gravel and can be hiked with a stroller. On the northwest corner of Mount Rainier, the Carbon River Trail leads you through an enchanting old-growth rain forest wonderland, just 80 minutes from Seattle.